Americans have devolved from one of the most rationally, scientific people on the planet to one of the most distrustful of science. Libertarian-Socialism recognizes that this is a dangerous and untenable situation. Science is the basis of the modern world. It cannot be rejected, because it does not adhere to a political agenda. Like everything in America, politics and money has polluted science and corrupted it. Political science, pun intended, is not a hard science however so “facts” are a bit more fluid. This new political science takes this fluidity to perverse extremes. The world finds it difficult to understand how politics has had a hand in the American scientific devolution from most rational to least rational nation on earth.
The patriotic libertarian and the patriotic socialist understand how political science has warped all inquiry in the United States. Many predictions of disaster permeated scientific opinion in the 1970s. Much of it did not come to be true, however. For example, a global Ice Age and widespread death due to overpopulation were predicted in the 1970s. Such dystopian predictions often were in the context of saving the planet from humanity. There is no question that fanatical environmentalism’s claims in the 1970s of a dark future has had a hand in the public’s eroded faith in the scientific community. Time and again, dire predictions of doom came from the scientific community about overpopulation, a coming Ice Age, social collapse due to poverty or killer bees all had scientific proponents. These predictions were hyped and often used to justify expensive government programs.
When the world kept rotating and social collapse did not happen, science began to look more political and less certain in its predictions. The big miss on a global Ice Age and Malthusian hysterics are what most Americans remember from the end of the 1970s. Nonetheless, it was environmentalists and scientists that first pointed out the fragility of the ozone layer, which they were correct to do and libertarian-socialists understand this, even if it escapes the broader electorate.
In addition to these big misses by dystopian prognosticators, some feel good sociological analysis of the nation’s problems during this time led to a large increase in assistance programs. The metrics being used to justify the increased social spending in welfare were based on so-called hard data. However, social science simply is not a hard science. There are many, many ways to interpret the dirty datasets of social engineers. Their unfounded claims in the middle part of the 20th century that there were hard metrics to support the large social programs were obviously incorrect. As society’s ills seemed to get worse throughout the 1970s, this ended up casting doubt on the real hard sciences.
These softer social sciences with even softer theories were used to justify expensive, yet ineffective, social programs. This large and expensive failure was played out on the evening news with ever more crime on the streets in urban America. These events helped substantiate some of society’s growing doubts about science in general. Add the subsequent political conflict over global climate change and science begins to appear even more confused to the average American. The libertarian-socialist’s point of view recognizes that science is done by humans and humans are flawed. Nonetheless, the scientific method remains valid and available for any that wish to use it.
Biology, chemistry, and physics and other hard sciences allow for experimental proofs demonstrated in controlled conditions. This is the scientific method. Theories make predictions about the real world and experiments either support those predictions or they do not. Social sciences always have to deal with that darn unpredictable human, so controls can never be properly applied. The push by the social “scientists” in the 20th century to extract tax revenue from American taxpayers, allegedly based upon metrics rooted in the scientific method was very damaging to science’s reputation when the promised societal improvements did not come to fruition. It was a very expensive failure and cost America more than dollars.
The patriotic socialist and the patriotic libertarian often clash in their conversations about social programs. There is no doubt that there are differences here. However, there is agreement between the patriots that much of the aforementioned social experimentation based upon the softer sciences was heavily curtailed under Ronald Reagan. The last remnants were effectively ended when Bill Clinton signed his austere welfare reform in the early 1990s. Most Americans do not realize that the Clinton welfare reform ended most of the real abuses of the system that shock jock radio deejays still shriek about today. Stories of drug addicts getting disability and welfare queens collecting thousands by having babies are 20th century artifacts and have nothing to do with the current state of affairs.
Political science in America has been a serious problem since the days of the Great Society. However, libertarian-socialists understand that the country retreated from Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty long ago. Libertarian-Socialists believe that science can and will be gamed by moneyed power for political ends. With the two political parties dividing up the issues, money flows to both sides of the divide. The duopoly has exacerbated American doubt in science by using global climate change debate as a political weapon.
Americans continue to watch as both proponents and opponents find, or more correctly fund, scientific opinions and data to support their political positions. The patriotic libertarian and the patriotic socialist understand that the expected consequence of so much private sponsorship of science and so little ethical behavior on the part of scientists themselves is the growing distrust of the scientific community by citizens.
Libertarian-Socialists understand the scientific method. No amount of corruption by scientists changes the power of the scientific method to identify truth in the natural world for the libertarian-socialist. Libertarian-Socialists must help average Americans use the scientific method to sift through competing political science claims. America’s great expansion in the industrial age was driven by the citizen scientists that sprung from practical application of technology in the real world, not academia’s ivory towers.
This distrust of science is bad for America and humanity in general. Science is not inherently evil, but rather a tool. The scientific method is not some great mystery. Science requires testable and repeatable experiments. When such experiments are not easily created and replicated, there is definitely room for debate. Climate science data can and has been gamed, but it still points to human caused climate change. What is really being debated among responsible scientists is how much is human caused and what to do about it.
In a patriotic conversation about global climate change, libertarian-socialists must make sure the debate revolves around scientific facts. Where facts are still debatable then the discussion needs to center on how to collect good data. With good data, verifiable and repeatable experiments can be used to gain more knowledge and make predictions. Predictions in the natural world are how scientific theories are tested. If the hypothesis cannot make a usable and testable prediction about the natural world, then it is subject to questioning.
For example, a founding father, Ben Franklin, made a prediction: Lightning is a manifestation of electricity in the natural environment. He then flew a kite on a metal string until it was struck by lightning to determine whether the model was correct. He predicted that large electrical charge would come down the wire to the metal key he placed at the end. Indeed this is science in its most basic form. In this way, even complicated things get broken down. Libertarian-Socialists must understand the scientific method to help point to areas of science being gamed by politics.
Weather still defies computer models to make long-term accurate predictions. This is due to the extraordinary amount of data that needs to be processed. Scientists are still years away from achieving processing speeds that allow them to collect data and crunch the numbers in time to beat the occurrence of the weather. Nonetheless, it is clear that the Earth’s weather is a large heat driven equation and as the numbers being entered into the equation get bigger one can expect ever more giant swings in the output as well as greater unpredictability. In lay terms, this basic aspect of the equations defining weather models means one could expect colder winters, hotter summers, more and more violent hurricanes and tornadoes. Coupled with these greater violent weather events, there will be a good deal of unexpected variability.
Exactly how this will all play out is still beyond technology to predict, but that does not mean the world should take no action and simply ignore the situation. Over the years, both sides of the debate have taken advantage of the uncertainty of future weather predictions. Both sides have been able to field their set of scientists and experts backing a narrow point of view. It is one of the reasons why the decision to take action has been put off for so long. There seemed to be no conclusive evidence one way or another to the average American.
For decades now, Americans have watched scientists say just what they have been paid to say. To the American public, so-called hard science now looks like an opinion and not a factual measure of the real world. Of course, the dire predictions of the 1970s, the disaster movie decade, has bred a justified skepticism, but that skepticism should be of scientists, NOT SCIENCE. The libertarian-socialist can never reject science, because true hard science knows no political party.
The battle over global climate change and what to do about it has made Americans skeptical of science and changed the very character of the nation. Mercenary science has made the profession ever more suspect not only to the detriment of themselves, but also to the society they allegedly served. Scientists pushing political agendas have led indirectly to a greater religious zeal, which has also crept into the public sector.
The traditional American citizen’s faith in science as a bottom line to cut through political passions has been thrown into doubt. Science was once the ultimate arbiter of dispute in the United States. Without this respected third party to provide boundaries to the debate, partisanship has been allowed to define facts. The theory of evolution, once considered an unassailable fact, has again been questioned due to a waning belief in science. Scientific facts are not political footballs, they are the basis of modern civilization.
It is tempting to blame a growing embrace of evangelical Christianity among mainstream society for American opposition to science. The patriotic libertarian and the patriotic socialist realize this doubt of science among Americans is created by partisanship, and it opens up the public space for unscientific points of view. Political parties, not religion, have fostered the conflict between science and religion for their own gain. Political parties in the United States have engaged in efforts to increase rather than fight ignorance. In fact, major religious leaders such as the Dalai Lama and the Pope of the Catholic Church have made several public statements in support of science. These global religious leaders see no conflict with science. It is American politics creating conflict between religion and science.
At first, American politics drove the gaming of social science data to push expensive social programs. Now American politics has made climate change data less credible through similar tactics. There still remains some justified suspicion that global climate change data has been manipulated to push a political and social agenda. Previous manipulations created a mistrust of science, casting it as opinion and creating doubt that human activity was changing the global climate. Libertarian-Socialists recognize the global climate change debate has been manipulated as a political issue by both sides.
The patriotic conversation between the libertarian and the socialist starts with an acceptance that human-caused climate change is a fact. However, the libertarian-socialist understands global climate change is a complex issue for the average American. Along with this scientific distrust, semantics has gotten in the way too. Thirty years ago, global climate change was widely known as global warming. That was a real misnomer and helped cloud the issue to the delight of the skeptics. Any time there was a harsh winter storm or severe bouts of cold weather, the jokes would fill the air about “Global warming? What global warming?”
Nonetheless, the libertarian-socialist understands that global climate change was happening decades ago and it is clear that it continues to happen today. However, with one side of the political divide convinced that all the climate science is being gamed for political purposes, there is more doubt today about global climate change than there was at the turn of this century. The right suspects most proposed solutions to global climate change as the ravings of hippies trying to roll back America’s technological society to a nature-worshiping commune. The right also claims that it wants to make policy on hard science and not on political rhetoric, but science supports man-made global climate change. Giant blizzards engulfing the US in the winter can complicate the understanding, but blizzards actually are supportive of global climate change, if one understands the science behind it. Greater variations in weather are actually predicted when adding more and more heat to the atmosphere.
Libertarian-Socialists understand that the current scientific global climate change debate is about just how dramatic and how fast the global climate is changing, not whether it is changing. Unfortunately, decades of sponsored science to support an alternative scientifically consistent argument against human caused climate change have muddied the water significantly for Americans. Without a doubt, there still exists reasoned debate among climate scientists globally about the ultimate outcomes. It is misguided for this reasoned debate to be used by the naysayers on the American political right to promote ideas of no “human-caused” climate change happening at all. There is little doubt of human-caused climate change at this point, but years of purposeful obfuscation of the facts has become difficult to reverse.
However, the patriotic debate between the libertarian and the socialist has brought agreement that the American environmentalist lobby has been involved in clouding issues about climate change and the solutions, as well. The environmental left has backed their own scientific studies and been caught skewing facts on some occasions to support a political agenda. Traditional environmentalist solutions often fail to take into account some basic pragmatic realities. Many of the environmentalist-sponsored climate models cannot be considered anything more than guesses due to uncertainties about the historical data and difficulty collecting real time data in the present.
The patriotic libertarian and the patriotic socialist have long since agreed that global climate change is real. They also agree that predictions about the ultimate outcome is speculation. This is the true hard science on the matter and the actions the world takes must be flexible. The climate is changing and at least some of that change is directly related to human activity, specifically the burning of fossil fuels. How much of the change is arguable for sure, but current temperature fluctuations are swinging beyond historical variations.
The thawing of the ancient iceboxes in the south and north of the planet are in progress. Such thawing will open a Northwest Passage to be sailed by the world’s merchant sailors soon. Countries like Tuvalu in the South Pacific are struggling to keep their heads above water, literally, as sea level rise begins to shrink their flat coral atoll of a country to nothing. Venice is building a vast complex of storm doors and sea walls to protect their city from global sea level rise. The British are also spending enormous amounts of money to protect London from storm surges coming up the Thames. Oil companies are investing billions in preparation for an ice-free Arctic that will soon be open to oil drilling. Libertarian-Socialists realize that the investment of these very large sums of money all around the world confirm that global climate change is happening.
Another thing that is abundantly clear to patriots is that historically America has been blessed with an advantageous climate. The United States has been able to feed itself, and much of the world, via vast tracts of arable land. In fact, one of America’s deepest and darkest times was definitely related to an environmental catastrophe. The black blizzards of the Great Depression’s Dust Bowl blighted these same vast tracts of arable land. Libertarian-Socialists cannot be sure about how things will work out in the climate change roulette the world has begun. Perhaps things will work out in America’s favor, but the odds are long that changes to the climate will preserve this inherent American advantage. The United States can hardly afford any degradation to its current advantage.
Weather related disasters could strain the nation’s economic resources to the breaking point. Already hurricanes appear to be increasing in number due to the greater heat input into the atmosphere. These destructive storms are becoming more powerful. Tornadoes also appear to be on the increase in the breadbasket of America. Whether these trends will continue, no one can be sure, but the odds would seem to favor their continuation. The greater heat input is just like putting bigger numbers into the aforementioned climate modeling equations. Those equations predict greater heat input would create greater variability and unpredictability. This application of the scientific method appears to be accurately the real world.
The denial of these scientific facts, which are all pointing to one conclusion, “human industrial activity is affecting global climate”, represents a great failure in American science. However, it is not just a failure of scientists or even of politicians. Politicians will always act like the political animals that they are and that is the one hard scientific fact about political science! Libertarian-Socialists must admit that Americans cannot continuously blame politicians for chasing the money as it is to be expected.
Libertarian-Socialists can find it too easy to blame conservatives and corporations for this stunning failure to act upon the obvious. The patriotic libertarian and the patriotic socialist understand that Americans really wanted to believe these spin-doctoring scientists in the 1990s. It made gasoline cheap and tooling around in a big SUV is fun.
In libertarian-socialism’s new paradigm, average citizens need to book up on the scientific method. Citizens need to be able to do some interpretation on their own of data relating to climate change not to mention a whole host of other complicated issues. Libertarian-Socialists must help educate the people on the global climate change issue and help drive consensus on solutions. To do this, libertarian-socialism will need to take on the traditionally Democratic and liberal environmental lobbies not just the Republican and conservative lobbies.